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Four in Mekong River attack sentenced to death

Updated: 2012-11-06 15:55
( Xinhua)

Four in Mekong River attack sentenced to death

Naw Kham(R), principal suspect for the murders of 13 Chinese sailors on the Mekong River last year, appears at the Intermediate People's Court of Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, on Nov 6, 2012. [Photo by Zhang Haolin/Asianewsphoto]

KUNMING - A Chinese court on Tuesday sentenced Naw Kham, a drug lord from Myanmar, and three of his subordinates to death for the murder of 13 Chinese sailors on the Mekong River last year.

Another two members of Naw Kham's gang, identified by their Chinese names Zha Bo and Zha Tuobo, received a death sentence with reprieve and eight years in prison, respectively, according to a verdict handed down by the Intermediate People's Court of Kunming in southwest China's Yunnan province. The two Zhas are from Myanmar.

The six suspects, comprised of five people from Myanmar, Thailand and Laos and one stateless suspect, faced charges of intentional homicide, drug trafficking, kidnapping and hijacking or a combination of those criminal offenses. The suspects were ordered by the court to pay fines totalling six million yuan (about 960,000 U.S. dollars).

All six defendants said they will appeal Tuesday's verdict.

Naw Kham and his gang members were found to have masterminded and colluded with Thai soldiers in an attack on two Chinese cargo ships, the Hua Ping and Yu Xing 8, on October 5, 2011 on the Mekong River, the court said in an investigative report.

Under Naw Kham's instructions, several of his subordinates were also found to have kidnapped Chinese sailors and hijacked cargo ships in exchange for ransom in early April 2011, according to the report.

The crime ring was busted earlier this year in a joint operation conducted by police from China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand after the brutal murders triggered an outcry in China last year.

About 300 people were present at Tuesday's first instance, including relatives and friends of the victims, diplomats from Laos and Thailand and the press. The defendents wore headphones through which language services were offered.